1947 in Movies

Movie reviews for movies released theatrically in 1947.

1. Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourner (10/10)

Despite a few very minor quibbles, this as close to a perfect noir as ’40s Hollywood gets. The lighting is ridiculous, the shots aren’t standard, it’s location-shot too (!!!), the story is twisty but not full of so many twists as today’s attempts at neo-noir, and “twist” movies. Yes, there are a number of cliches, and Greer’s character isn’t really all that believable, but this was made in 1947 so these things should be expected. Mitchum is his usual excellent self (and he makes some of the snappy dialogue actually sound believable, instead of making one feel like this is Double Indemnity all over again) and Kirk Douglas never actually screams at anyone, which is a miracle in and of itself. Definitely one of the best Hollywood films of the ’40s.

2. Crossfire, directed by Edward Dmtyryk (10/10)

This is one of the greatest film noirs of all-time. It’s one of those that managed to use limited resources to rise above its origins and genre. It’s certainly one of the most political of the ’40s noirs, which adds a layer of depth that isn’t normally present. An absolute must see.

2. The Lady from Shanghai, directed by Orson Welles (10/10)

Though less famous than Kane, this is still one of the best directed movies of the ’40s. What it lacks in story compared to the above two movies, it more than makes up for in inventive ideas (yes, again stolen from the Germans). It’s a shame that more people haven’t seen this.

4. Lady in the Lake, directed by Robert Montgomery (9/10)

This movie has possibly the ballsiest direction I have seen in a film of its era and origins. It’s too bad the rest of it doesn’t work so well. I almost want to call it a classic just because of the craziness of making most of the movie POV at that time, but unfortunately Chandler’s dialogue doesn’t seem to work that well with these actors. It’s a lot easier to notice how ridiculous it is in their mouths than say in Bogart’s. Also, too many of the actors treat the camera like a camera and not like the detective it’s supposed to be. Still, that POV stuff is totally insane.

5. Monsieur Verdoux, directed by Charles Chaplin (8/10)

This is a mostly great film. It’s amazing to see someone like Chaplin handle a talkie so well. Most of his peers were unable to do this. The film is pretty hilarious and darker than most of his other films. The one issue is the last act, everything from the dictator montage on is preachy and somewhat out of tone with the rest of the film. It is a lame ending for an otherwise good movie.

6. Born to Kill, directed by Robert Wise (8/10)

This is quite strong for the most part. It’s a little too over-the-top, at times, which keeps it from being an all-time classic noir.

7. Kiss of Death, directed by Henry Hathaway (7/10)

Things that were good:

  • The ridiculously tense and very well-directed (for its time) opening and closing sequences. Watching the scene in the elevator I couldn’t help but think what average modern directors would do with it. They’d ruin it.
  • The acting was fine, I think.
  • The location shooting is always cool in a movie from back then.
  • But more importantly: what the movie is famous for, pushing a woman down the stairs. Better yet, she’s a cripple. That’s balls.

But then:

  • Even though it was ’47, they were still sticking to the production code, which blows.
  • It was a pretty typical film noir otherwise, and pretty unremarkable. The script was silly in many parts…I believe the best word to describe the plot, motivations and lines is hackneyed.
  • So really it’s not that great, but it is worth seeing if only for the first 5 minutes and a woman getting pushed down the stairs.

8. Gentleman’s Agreement, directed by Elia Kazan (6/10)

If it’s between this and Crossfire, for your ‘Hollywood does anti-semitism,’ choose Crossfire. This is not one of Kazan’s better movies.

9. Brute Force, directed by Jules Dassin (6/10)

Okay for its era, but Hollywood has made many much better prison films. Read the review.

10. The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, directed by Irving Reis (6/10)

I was really not looking forward to this one, but I found it to be an enjoyably stupid screwball comedy. Maybe I was in the right mood. Or maybe I’ve softened over the years and can take this style more than I used to. Whatever the reason, though I found the whole thing kind of preposterous, I laughed much more than I normally do with these types of movies, and I didn’t get annoyed by the contrivances.

Update: Somehow I was not horribly offended by the conceit of the thing.

11. Dead Reckoning, directed by John Cromwell (5/10)

This is a pretty unremarkable noir.